I can remember living in Seattle just over a decade ago, right before the world was scheduled to end by way of another colossal Microsoft screw-up. Maybe all the techno-apocalyptic hubbub was just another marketing ploy concocted for the likes of Hal Lindsey and Pat Robertson, or maybe it was all a part of prepping the world for Vista. We may never know, but, whatever the case on the Y2K front, Seattle in 1999 definitely was an interesting place to be.
The political sea was churning.
The world was watching.
Progress was in the air.
The World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 was to be hosted at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle beginning on November 30th, and Che Guevara wannabes from around the globe were prepped, primed, locked, and loaded (though not legally so, mind you).
During this dramatic and beautifully revealing snippet of American history, I was blessed to live in a downtown apartment amidst the roving gangs of progress.
One thing I really enjoyed was the uniforms.
Not the police uniforms (though I certainly did appreciate those folks, lemme tellya). Nope, my favorite cookie-cut wardrobe package on parade during Progress Week in Seattle was the simple, dark, hooded and masked ensemble that so many of the good folks from the happy land of peace and tolerance opted to don. These predictably monotonous, by-the-numbers thug getups were often accented by such marvelous accessories as, you guessed it: chains, bats, sticks, and ACORN tracts.
Vandals of the world, unite!
And unite they did.
They strolled, rolled, crashed, crushed and pillaged their way through the downtown area. They smashed windows. They looted stores. They antagonized police. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they even antagonized police horses. (Can you guess when PETA almost started to care?)
I was privileged to work in a downtown office at the time and had the unforgettable (really; trust me, I’ve tried) pleasure of witnessing the forces of progress up close and personal. I saw storefronts crashed through, businesses vandalized, and police threatened. In this, I understood the uniform. The hoods and masks were a no-brainer, really. I mean, you need those sorts of things when, at any moment, you might yield to the urge to do something really, really progressive.
The image that made the deepest impact/scar came my way as I was weaving through the packed crowds covering the streets on the way to work when I caught a glimpse of a gaggle of progressives [not Shinola]-ing in the alley behind the Decatur Building. I tried to turn away before the image burned in, but here I am…over a decade later and unable to shake it. It still stings.
There’s nothing quite like the sight – or smell – of pure, undiluted progress.
As the happy forces of peace and justice frolicked and went about the business of wrecking the city, the police responded with tear gas and a variety of other measures, culminating in the quarantine of downtown Seattle.
Providentially, I was also privileged and blessed to live in the quarantined zone at the time. It was a hoot. In that one week, I learned a lot. More than I wanted to, for sure.
Plunder…thuggery…tear gas…and adorable little misunderstood freedom fighters cranking out the progress in the alley behind my office building.
While much still mystifies and amazes me about that week, the only real lingering question that I have when it comes to the events of 1999’s Progress Week in Seattle is: Why rubber bullets?
Now, let’s fast-forward to April of 2010. Just a couple o’ weeks ago. Tax Day, to be precise.
Or, as it’s come to be known these days: Tea Party Day.
You see, on that day there was another gathering of dangerous people in downtown Seattle.
A mob of Neanderthals.
A horde of barbarians.
A gang of “racists”.
Or so I was told.
But it was weird.
They didn’t break anything.
They didn’t loot anything.
They didn’t take even a verbal shot at the police. They actually seemed to be pro-law enforcement.
They seemed to be quite pro-America, too.
And they had quite a thing for The Constitution.
Like I said, it was weird.
They didn’t even hunker down in any alleys.
No hoods either.
No chains swinging into windows.
But make no mistake: they were dangerous. They were a threat. And they still are. More so with each passing, building day.
They want their country back.
And they’re not asking.
They want the Constitution to matter again.
And they’re willing to do what it takes to see that it does.
They cherish freedom. They covet liberty. They know that both are threatened as never before in American history.
They know that America can end.
And they won’t let it.
They’re willing to fight. They’re willing to sacrifice. For the first time in a long time, they’re willing to pay the price that freedom requires.
This is different.
Things are going to change.
“Change” is going to change.
“Hope” is going to change.
“Progress” is going to change.
Something big is about to happen. Something very big.
And so long as the liberty loving people spearheading this movement hold true to the God and principles that inspired and sustained American reformation and revolution in the past, it’ll be a beautiful thing.
Copyright 2010 S.A. Buss – Feel free to re-post this piece, but only with the copyright included and a link to Fire Breathing Christian whenever possible. Thank you!
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